Chemo Is V-Shaped

After being poisoned, you hardly notice the slide downward for the first few days. Along about the fifth day after, however, the fatigue is more noticeable. Days ten to fourteen, you hit bottom. The chemo is stomping cancer with hobnail boots. But there’s collateral damage: your energy levels, mood, Weltanschauung, ambition, concentration, even your I.Q. all take a hit. It doesn’t help that you’ve lost all your hair; you’ve also lost weight but thanks to what cancer is doing to your body, that doesn’t show. Nothing looks good on you; nothing looks good to you. You have to worry about being neutropenic––susceptible to infection because your white blood count is low––so going out isn’t an option. If you’ve still got your sense of humour at this point, it’s so acid and ghoulish that Ambrose Bierce would tell you to lighten up.

But it’s just five days: ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen. By day fifteen, you’re coming back up the other side of the V. Things aren’t so bad, especially because you are by-God alive, the fog is clearing, your ambition is waking up, you remember that you have the best friends in the world, the best spouse in the world, the best cat in the world. You can still do what you love no matter what you look like, and anyone who thinks you don’t look good can just go look at something else, thank you so much, I’m sure. Five low days out of the month––BFD. Remember PMS? That was worse.

You’re still tired but now you can think of work-arounds, especially for going out. If you stay off public transportation when it’s most crowded, like at rush hour, you should be fine. You want to see friends; they know you’ve got cancer, they’re not expecting Madonna. You always look wonderful to people who love you; you know this because the people you love always look wonderful to you. Life is sweet––your life is sweet, and so is everything in it.

If you want to live, you’ve got to get out there and live.


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